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Students spend spring break building homes

Amanda Hovik

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The building crew includes students and construction management teachers. Photo credit: Shayla Ramos


Some students spent their spring break in the sun, but with shovels in hand, doing manual labor.

Chico State partnered with the Salvation Army to do the Blitz Build, constructing transitional rehabilitation housing in just nine days.

The volunteers started work March 14 and had until March 22 to complete two 1,600-square-foot duplexes, said Justin Besotes, senior construction management major and a student project manager.

“It’s a huge benefit to the city of Chico through the Salvation Army,” Besotes said.

Besotes was excited to see the walls going up, he said.

“I’m ready to get ‘em done and get the siting going, get it painted and say, ‘Here’s the keys,’” Besotes said. “It’s gonna be an awesome feeling.”

The construction site is located on the corner of West Eighth and Salem streets, he said. It’s a transitional area for people to live until they get back on their feet, get jobs and can afford their own places.

Private donors gave Salvation Army checks for this project, he said.

Chico State, the city of Chico, Modern Building Inc. and Conroy Construction Inc. have helped build the houses.

The total scope is $1.2 million, not including labor, Besotes said. The labor was provided by students, faculty and some industry volunteers.

The majority of students were construction management majors, but all majors were welcome to participate.

About 60 students worked behind the scenes on the project, Besotes said. There were about 40 students, 10 contractors and some faculty members on-site.

Besotes expected building to be finished early, he said.

“I think the houses are going to turn out absolutely beautiful,” said Emma Caswell, a junior construction management major and student project manager. “I think it’s gonna really make this lot look a whole lot better.”

Joining up with Salvation Army is perfect for community service, she said.

They’ve had the best team working on this project so far and it’s become easy to work together, Caswell said.

Collaboration within the community is exciting, said Tod Kimmelshue, board director of the Chico Rotary Club.

“I think they’ll be excited and we’re helping families get back on their feet, so that’s a good thing,” he said.

Kimmelshue loves working with the university and young people, he said.

“I think this does a lot of things,” Kimmelshue said. “It helps the Salvation Army and gives some students some practical experience.”

Amanda Hovik can be reached at [email protected] or @AmandaHovik on Twitter.

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Students spend spring break building homes